Yesterday I met my friend Emily at Zaytinya for lunch. If you recall, over the summer I had dinner at this restaurant with Anna, Jenn and Mas. We loved the food and service, and I was looking forward to lunching at Zaytinya.
At noon, the restaurant was still pretty empty, and I was surprised when we were told we could not sit at the table of our choice because it was reserved. People reserve certain tables? I asked to have a table with as much natural light as possible because I was planning on taking pictures of the food (of course!).
The restaurant is doing a new economic stimulus promotion where for $20.09 you choose 3 mezzes and one dessert from a pre-selected list of options. Emily and I decided it was an excellent idea (otherwise I'm often overwhelmed by quite an extensive menu).
Our waitress, Christine, took our orders, brought out a bowl of olive oil (notice the Z made with vinegar! It just dawned on me that Z stands for Zaytinya), and then we received a basket of fresh and hot pita bread. We were off to a good start!
For the first round I ordered crispy fried eggplant, and Emily ordered fattoush salad. I know that usually anything fried has to be good, but the eggplant was amazing! I could have happily eaten another few slices: the eggplant was tender on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside without being too oily. And I was glad (somewhat) I wasn't planning on kissing anyone later because the garlicky sauce was just that: garlicky (in the most perfect way possible).
Emily's fattoush was perfect.
For the second round I ordered shrimp, and Emily ordered chicken with orzo. While Emily liked her dish, I thought it was overly salty. But I did not mind, because I really liked the shrimp! Dill, mustard and lemon juice went so well with the sweetness of the shrimp. And we received a second basket of pita just in time for me to dip it into the sauce.
Christine came over one more time and apologized that the salmon was taking such a long time. She asked if we were in a hurry, and I joked that I worked for the government, and Emily was on vacation, so we were okay. Christine then asked why I was taking photographs of the food, and I told her that I have a food blog.